The state of votes
Hope for a change
Change is an irrational risk
Marie Lebeslé | 2018. January 11. 12:00
The Czechs manifest their dissatisfaction with their current President, Miloš Zeman, via demonstrations, diverse newspaper, personal publications and discussions. Zeman seems to lead the country against the aspirations of increasing parts of society. This election is an opportunity for a change.
Until mid-January, nine men will be trying to convince the Czech population that they are the most suitable to run the Presidential office. Their campaigns are currently running at their peak performance. Incumbent President, Miloš Zeman, claims not to be campaigning, however, we may find him on many billboards and selected prescript TV shows. While this is happening, numerous organizations such as Generace s názorem (The Generation with an Opinion) or Jeden svět na školách (One world in Schools) are emphasizing the importance of the upcoming elections to young people. Student elections took place in 384 schools with a total number of 43559 valid votes. The candidate with the highest number of votes was by far Jiří Drahoš (33,59%), a physical chemist and ex-President of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Czech students want a new face in the office, but they also want to be an active member of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). History confirms that every change in the country was led by students and Czechs are calling for a change.
During the previous five years, Zeman has done nothing but divide the Czech society. This might not appear on an international scale, but the population diverges in opinions and expectations. He’s not ashamed to use the derogatory term “Pražská kavárna” (The Prague’s café) to designate his opponents from bigger cities, who are actively debating politics in cafés. In the past, this term was used to label the electors of pro-European parties, determined to support Vaclav Havel’s political principles. By labelling his opponents, Zeman is creating a large gap between the “intellectuals from big cities” and the “ordinary people”. Healing this division and uniting the country again is one of the main points of most other candidates such as Pavel Fisher, an experienced diplomat who worked in Havel’s team, as well as the Czech ambassador in France. Zeman’s behavior is one-sided as he does not respect the law and does not apologize when he offends other citizens. Pavel Fisher is offering politeness and decency. Michal Horáček (lyrics writer, entrepreneur, founder of the betting office Fortuna) also has the motivation to be a good leader, even though he admitted that it won’t be an easy task. On the other hand, he also added, that the role of the head of state is to bring people together, not the opposite.
Many candidates want to bring the Czech Republic back on the map as the heart of Europe. They want to be an active member of the EU. They want us to realize who our true allies are and why a Western orientation is important for the country. They denounce Zeman’s above-standard associations with China and Russia, both authoritative regimes we should not follow as an example. Marek Hilšer, a doctor, activist and humanitarian warns us about Zeman’s aim to “change the course of our foreign policy towards Eastern dictatorships”. Before Xi Jinping’s visit to Prague in July 2016, he took the initiative to write to the Prime Minister (Bohuslav Sobotka at that time), sharing his concern about “the cynical ignoring of China’s violence towards some of its own citizens”, hence disagreeing with this official visit of the Chinese president. With what is happening in the world right now, the Czech Republic should stand up for democracy, and push for the respect of Human Rights. After all, the Czech Republic gained democracy not so long ago, during the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Hence, the nation should have a clear and unanimous voice when it comes to foreign policy.
It’s not written anywhere, nevertheless an elector with critical thinking skills would say that a good state of health is a crucial condition, when candidating for President. It’s not only necessary to carry out functions, but also to be mentally stable and not susceptible to influence. People want a strong and active President. They want to be represented by a capable leader, who doesn’t need his bodyguards to play the role of caretakers. No drunkenness and no swearing. A dynamic person with precise visions and plans who won’t be afraid to be challenged by his opponents to discuss different points of views. And that’s what silent Miloš Zeman is definitely unable to offer, proven also by his refusal of any campaign or communication before the election. The office would benefit from some vitality and stamina, Czechs deserve to be represented decently.
Nicolas Eberhard | 2018. January 11. 17:00
Economic growth, prosperity, financial stability and security in the middle of the migration crisis that the European Union has to face, described correctly the situation in the Czech Republic, in the past years. Even though incumbent President, Miloš Zeman, was not the main motor of this success, his presidency is just as significant, because he contributed to the development of this situation. The essential question is, to what extent can the new Head of state be more efficient than the current one.
Nine men, nine different points of view about the future of the Czech Republic for the next five years. Two of them are going to be chosen in the first round this weekend and the winner will be known after the second round, by the end of January. Nowadays the biggest prospect is incumbent President, Miloš Zeman, due to his huge popularity, thanks to rich political career that he started at the dawn of the independent Czech Republic, in 1993, and obviously, due to his current presidency, which lasted 5 last years. Now he wants to keep on doing his work. A politician for many years, he is the most experienced. But for a minor part of the population, he seems to be a way too strong or, as they say, arrogant, and this minority wants to see considerable change.
As in other countries, there are many pre-election surveys to analyse preferences of electors, in order to spot the candidate with the biggest chance to win. In the Czech Republic there is no difference and in each of these surveys, the winner is Miloš Zeman. The results from the latest, official one, were not surprising – Zeman reached the first place with 42,5%, he got 15% more than the second candidate and 30% than the third. In addition, at least 49% would vote for our President in the second tour, which means that he has a really big chance to be re-elected for five more prospering years of the Czech Republic. There is one exception to these surveys, which are the student’s elections that took place last month, in the institutions of secondary education. Every student older than 15 years had an opportunity to vote. In total 43 559 of valid votes were counted. Despite the fact that Zeman isn’t the most popular among students, because of his lack of energy, he came second after Drahoš, which can’t be considered as a failure. If the survey is analysed in detail, it can be said that in numerous technological and professional schools and also in one region, Zeman was the absolute winner. Above all, the results of youth surveys cannot be considered as a simulation of the real elections, because a big part of young electors will not be able to participate in the real one, due to the age limit. All the other surveys indicate clearly that a change is not going to happen.
It is important to reveal some of Zeman’s most important successes, such as the fact that the Czech Republic is the safest state of the European Union, with the smallest percentage of unemployment (yes, even smaller than in Germany). He is intelligent, with a stable opinion, and knows exactly what steps have to be taken to make the country more prosperous. He is not the type that says yes to everything. He knows about the wish of the majority to leave the European Union, which is undesirable for overall prosperity, so he tries to stay rational and tries to explain to the society during his numerous trips to regions, that there is no another project that could be better for the country, but as a democrat, he would allow a referendum to take place. Zeman also tried to reinforce prosperity by improving relations with developing countries like China and Russia and also potential future leaders in many domains, such as in the economy or the industry. To give an example, last month, he took more than one hundred entrepreneurs to Russia, to discuss new cooperation and investments, thanks to which it is easy to say that he is dynamic and has a real plan for the future, contrary to numerous Zeman critics.
In the Czech Republic, it is possible to be President for 10 years maximum, so they can hold a five-year term twice. All of the former Presidents were always re-elected for a second time, which shows that Czechs follow the tradition of continuity. They feel that changes cause inconveniences and struggles for prosperity. Czechs are afraid of big changes, prooved for example by their systematic refusal of the euro. I believe these predispositions will guide the choice this time as well.
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